WASHINGTON -- Assets held by problem banks plummeted in the first half of the year while the Bank Insurance Fund grew 34% to $17.5 billion, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday.

The biggest chunk of that growth is the $2.8 billion commercial banks paid in premiums to the fund during the first half. The second-largest component is the $1.1 billion the FDIC stripped out of the fund's reserves for future losses.

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